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Added by mojack on 4 Nov 2014 06:37
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Noir Rap Albums

New York in 93' was the tale of two factions battling for supremacy. The Jazz rappers, and the Riggidy Ruffians.
The fact of the matter was that Riggidy Ruff was probably gonna hold strong, sapping NY of it's integrity for the reward of a paltry slice of attention from the west coast dominated pie. It was like the east had been reduced to whoring itself out just to eat, while the west coast gangstas rolled in cash and big cars.
Then, out of the previously rap dormant Staten Island, 9 swordsmen rushed out and performed a coup as shocking as it was sudden, that singlehandedly ripped New York straight into the grimy shadows of Noir Rap rule, wiping out the Riggidy Ruff style in one fell swoop, and raising a stylistic empire capable of meeting the G Funkers head to head. Enter the Wu Tang Clan. A platoon of pure skills and a hardcore sound simply never heard before. The production takes the vague hints of Noir Rap and throws it ALL the way into the shady New York nightscape of creepy lights and wrecked apartment buildings.
Noir Rap has a downbeat, dark, tense production that is loosely comparable to old film noir soundtracks. Though primarily an East Coast phenomenon, there were some examples of West Coast artists embracing the style. Although lyrical styles accompanying noir productions can vary, they are more often than not bleak street narratives or violent hardcore thug raps. I choose albums over artists, because many artists at some time known for it abandoned it as trends in hip-hop changed.
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I guess jazz rap would have survived under this, but I think lots of acts would start crossing over to tongue twisting and nonsense lyrics. But anyone paying attention to the streets might have heard a different sound rising out of the sewer grating. A small sound with Kool G Rap, rising to a soft noise with Mobb Deep, then a noteworthy din with Black Moon.
The production takes the vague hints of Noir Rap on albums like Black Moon's and throws it ALL the way into the shady New York nightscape of creepy lights and wrecked apartment buildings with an eerie taste of mortal kombat style asian cinema samples. The emcees are a vast bunch of varying skills and they flow into one another like no emcees up to this point had done. There's the rugged snarkiness of Method Man, the brutal bursts of Ghostface, the strange gargled diction of RZA, the baseball bat bluntness of Raekwon, the assured razor edge flow of GZA, the hit and run accuracy of Inspectah Deck, and of course the insanity of Ol Dirty Bastard. U God and Masta Killa are here too but don't do too much. The album is just timeless and the perfect inevitable east coast answer to the west coasts gangsta. The delivery of the emcees is unparalleled on how perfect it is, the production changed an entire coast, and it's just so fucking badass. The New York Renaissance was launched here, and the final period of the golden age began.

Rating: 5
Enta Da Stage is an album that is so dark, it sounds like it's coming straigth from the sewers.Listening to this album is like cracking open a cocoon and looking at a caterpillar in mid butterfly transformation. In this case it's uncovering where NY's jazz rap tastes transformed into Noir rap, the junction point where a city changed hands and sounds. Where the sun went down and the gats came out on a coast that had been resisting them since 88'. This is the first album from The Boot Camp Clik, one of the central crews to the mid-90's Ny scene, Some tracks sound like straight up jazz rap you might as well hear Tribe over (Who Got Da Props), but then there's creeping stuff like Black Smiff n Wessun that is straight noir rap. The production on this is phenomenal, it does use the usual combination of hard drums, jazz horns and phat basslines but the sound achieved is very diferent from your typical 93 album. The choices of samples is always dark, the drums and bass give the album a hard as hell sound plus they'll throw a smooth haunting jazz sample on top of that. There's 14 songs on the album and you nothing short of 14 incredible beats to listen to over and over again.

Rating: 4
After dropping the undeniable classic "36 Chambers" with his wu-tang clan, the RZA hooked up with Prince Paul to drop an horrorcore project along with Frukwan (formely from Stetsasonic) and Poetic.The creative combination of RZA and Prince Paul was definitely going to be clever and macabre. And it is.While horrorcore had mostly stuck with a more obscure Detroit scene, this is a pretty high profile east coast release of it, and gets all the right polish and first class treatment you'd want from the stuff. The result is one of the straight up funnest rap album of the Noir period,All the rappers are insane maniacs that strictly about gore and killing, the centerpiece of the album (1-800-Suicide) is a song that suggests different ways of killing yourself.
All of the lyrics are just wild and crazy, this stuff is just pure entertainment and shouldn't be taken too seriously. The production is handled by Prince Paul mostly and it's very dark and gloomy, quite different from the stuff he did with De La Soul. Noir rap always had the right kind of production for some amazing horrorcore but never the lyrics or performances. This album shows just how ideal the two would have been for eachother.

Rating: 4
MOP are some hardcore motherfuckers. There's isn't quite any other group that can match the level of anger and frustration that M.O.P. let loose in their raps. M.O.P. are the best at what they do and even the mighty Onyx doesn't compare.The music is ironically mostly more jazzy and not the sort of RZA darkness. The production is all done by DR Period and it sounds a little cheap and dated,Sonically this is 93'. But lyrically and delivery wise? Whooie, this is Noir alright. The lyrics concern the following topics, kicking ass, stealing things, killing people, shooting guns, terrorizing in general etc. I would still recommend this one to all the M.O.P. fans cause it's just necessary to have it and I don't mean that for only their classic debut single "How About Some Hardcore" cause the whole album is dope.

Rating: 4
This right here is the biggest reason that the underrated status of the Diggin in the Crates Crew is a fucking shame. Because it's the unsung classic of Noir York in 94'. D.I.T.C. was one hell of a crew. Lord Finesse, Diamond D, Showbiz & AG, Fat Joe, all of them dropped great albums in the previous years but things didn't stop there as O.C. also had his word to say. His lyrics cut like razors and his delivery is amazing. It's a very human yet in your face bluntness that doesn't mess around, it forces you to pay attention to what he's saying. And you better be. The production is mostly the work of the final DITC in-house producer out of the gates, and the best, Buckwild. And oh god...Noir rap doesn't get more sobering then the work he puts down here. If you like the sad heavy duty tone of Illmatic tracks like "Memory Lane" get your ass over here. The whole album is almost as much a downer as "Stress: The Extinction Agenda", Born 2 Live in particular with it's tale of loss of innocence is gonna make some moods drop through the floor. The album doesn't need guests cause O.C. can hold it down without a problem, he's just got enough everyday street-type rhymes to never get redundant. The standout of the album is "Time's Up" which has been quoted as much as a Rakim song, it's really some pure NY east coast shit and I think anyone that's into the basic beats + rhymes formula (ala Illmatic) will enjoy this album a whole lot. It used to be one of the hard albums to find since it was on Wild Pitch, but there's been than enough reissues available now, there is simply no excuse not to own "Word... Life" anymore.

Rating: 5
"Big L R.I.P."


Those 5 words shouted by DJ Premier in 1999 suddenly transformed this album into a classic, cause this record went under the radar when it first got released. But after he died it only then became the "classic" people refer to now. On the surface it looks like it could be a peer of other such material from the time, after all it's got more hardcore noir beats and crime rhymes for that ass. And so much of that stuff was top notch material. But this just isn't in the ballpark of the other Noir giants of the year. I've listened to it so many times and it just doesn't go much beyond so-so beats and a one note performance. His lyrics are great no doubt, vicious witty lines this guy. I mean it's a massive shame he died so soon, and it would have been fascinating to see where he would have gone. But make no mistake, his potential is fascinating, not what he shows here which is merely good. Still one of rap's most overrated LPs.

Rating: 4
As you should all know by now, Kool G Rap spent the early 90's a lonely maker of violent hardcore rap in an indifferent East Coast. Until with his ultra-violent "Live and Let Die" he unwittingly opened the gates of hell under New York and let out the Noir. Now in the very darkest midst of Noir York he returns (now solo, as if DJ Polo really mattered, he never did much anyway). With this album Kool G Rap moved into the "grimy" hardcore sound NY sound and that really fits perfectly for him. You'd think he's be able to make a supreme quintessential album in this environment. But he didn't exactly use this opportunity to claim his righteous throne, but he made a pretty good one all the same.As for G Rap he keeps on doing his lyrical gymnastics, he's truly one of the most gifted rappers of all time... On every track where he raps he just kills shit, with his rap til you out of breath style (and he never runs out of breath). He makes it all look like it's so easy and other rappers are usually pale in comparison. It's a great listen just because he's finally reached his personal promise land.

Rating: 4
I don't really get how AZ has managed to sort of fall through the cracks, I do think he deserves a bit more love then he gets. Anyway, Noir rap produced one major offshoot, Mafioso rap, and this album is one of the first major examples of the stuff from this era (I would argue Ice T got there first six years earlier). Unlike the soldier level nightmares of most Noir rap (see Mobb Deep) these albums have an interest in the complex machinations of organized crime and (increasingly as the years went by) the gilded rewards of pulling it all off. The greatest strength of the album is AZ's rapping who's definitely influenced by Nas and Kool G Rap with a "rap til your out of breath style", he really comes sharp on all the tracks. The reason why I think this is not a classic is because it really lacks in the production department, after the first few songs, the production really falls apart with only "ok" beats.

Rating: 3.5
Imagine yourself somewhere in the concrete labyrinth of the urban northeastern United States. Newark, Boston, Providence, Bronx, Brooklyn, Hartford, Queens, what does it matter. As long as it's night. Deep night, that sort of dead night you get after twelve. And in the dead middle of winter. Not that crisp winter. But the icy depths you get in the center of January, snow is everywhere, obscuring your vision and burying your feet. The only light is from the street lamps, and they dot the road ahead like a connect the dots puzzle from a nightmare, the rest is darkness illuminated barely by a faint glow of urban light pollution. You hear wind blowing that rips into your bones. Hell is frozen over, and you find that this is the way it works best. That's the sound of this album. That's the feel. Right down to the blowing wind on "Cold World" this is that terror of the slums in cold feels like. It's what RZA set out to do, and what GZA set out to tell of. This is a pure masterpiece on the Wu's part. Every member is here, and they all pull out all stops. Even Killah Priest shows up (twice!). Dotted over it are samples from the film "Shogun Assassin" dotting the frigid cityscape with warped tastes of japanese samurai films. It's the essential Wu album. And one of the finest albums ever committed to wax. Like a good movie you'll keep returning, finding new aspects, and every time you'll be transported from wherever you are to that lonely blizzard ridden run down parking garage somewhere in the center of Brooklyn. And there's nowhere else you'd rather be.

Rating: 4.5
Welcome to the grimiest record of 1997, CNN's War Report picks up right up where Hell on Earth left.Noir had started steadily evolving into a less atmospheric shady sound in 96'. But it was also evolving in another way, certain acts liek Biggie were being corrupted from within by Mafioso rap transforming into Jiggy. Jiggy rose and Noir fell. But it wasn't going out without a fight, and Capone and Noreaga are two guys who wouldn't give in to Jiggy influence, as they attempt to hold up the flag even if for just a few months more.The album features nothing but dark street tales over some deadly production, Lyrically it might not be the most impressive record ever, but both rappers are pretty good at what they do.The production is really banging and really shows how the east coast does it. Definitely one of the most memorable albums of 1997, one to own for sure.Tellingly however this album didn't really save anything from Jiggy. New York couldn't rely on it's hardcore rap to save itself, it needed to look elsewhere.

Rating: 3.5

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